rain
Thursday November 15th, 2018 2:31PM
8:41AM ( 5 hours ago ) Weather Alert

Trial begins for man charged in 'Gyspy Hill' serial killings

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — A career criminal who authorities believe is the Gypsy Hill Killer faces trial Friday in Northern California for the murders of two young women four decades ago.

Law enforcement officials believe Rodney Halbower, 69, is the man who raped and killed six young women during a five-month period in 1976.

The serial killer was given his nickname when one of the bodies was found in the Gypsy Hills section of Pacifica, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

Opening statements start Friday in Redwood City, which is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

The killings of six young women in Northern California and Reno, Nevada, remained a mystery until 2014.

That's when DNA taken from cigarette butts saved from the scene of one of the killings in Reno led investigators to Halbower's prison cell in Oregon.

The San Mateo County district attorney's office charged Halbower with two of the six murders that occurred there, citing the cases' DNA evidence.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe called Halbower "a sociopathic serial killer" and said he is seeking to have Halbower sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Halbower's DNA was taken when he entered the Oregon prison in 1989 where he was serving 90 years for rape and attempted murder. Halbower's DNA was stored in a national database and matched the sample Reno cold case detectives scraped from the cigarette butt when they took another look at the Reno murder case in 2014.

A woman who confessed to murder spent 30 years in prison for the crime, but evidence mounted that she was mentally unfit and probably innocent.

It's likely Halbower would never have been linked to the five California murders and the killing of a University of Nevada nursing student in Reno had he not escaped from a Nevada prison in December 1986. He stole a car and made his way to Oregon, where — within days of his escape — he was arrested for rape and attempted murder.

An Oregon jury convicted Halbower and sentenced him to 15 years in prison in that state. First, he was returned to Nevada to finish that state's prison term.

When Nevada paroled him in 2013, he was sent back to Oregon, where prison officials took a DNA sample and submitted it to the national database investigators use to revive stalled investigations, which linked him to the Gypsy Hill murders.

Halbower was first transferred to the San Mateo County Jail in 2014 and his trial has been delayed several times. He has fired several of his public defenders and demanded to represent himself. The case was also delayed until a jury last year determined he was competent to stand trial. Judges have refused to let him serve as his own attorney. His current public defender, John Halley, didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Court records show Halbower has spent the last 53 years in prison or on the lam after escaping.

A 1987 psychiatric report for an Oregon court concluded that Halbower was an intelligent man who suffered from "a severe personality disorder, with a propensity toward criminal behavior."

Halbower earned a high school diploma in prison, but he has had no other education, court records show. He does not appear to possess job skills, although he took drafting classes and dabbled with art behind bars in Michigan, Nevada and Oregon.

Still, that psychiatric report said Halbower "feels that he is pretty accomplished, that he should be able to teach, that he has a great many qualifications" and yearned to be a famous artist or a rock-and-roll star. The report concluded that Halbower's "life is replete with poor impulse control, narcissism and a certain grandiosity."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
China's Xi plans to meet Putin on visit to Russian port city
China's President Xi Jinping meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in a sign of strengthening ties between the Asian giants.
2:30AM ( 11 minutes ago )
US Defense secretary makes surprise visit to war-weary Kabul
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives in the Afghan capital Kabul on a surprise visit to the war-weary country
2:15AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Giuliani to AP: Trump will not answer obstruction questions
Rudy Giuliani says President Donald Trump will not answer any questions, written or in person, about possible obstruction of justice
1:46AM ( 55 minutes ago )
Kavanaugh avoids major missteps, closing 2 days of testimony
Senate Democrats worked into the night in a last, ferocious attempt to paint Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a foe of abortion rights and a likely defender of President Donald Trump if he makes it to the high court
1:43AM ( 59 minutes ago )
Trump denounces NYT column as officials cry 'Not me!'
President Donald Trump is lashing out against the anonymous senior official who wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times claiming to be part of a "resistance" working to thwart his most dangerous impulses
1:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
China's Xi plans to meet Putin on visit to Russian port city
China's President Xi Jinping meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in a sign of strengthening ties between the Asian giants.
2:30AM ( 11 minutes ago )
US Defense secretary makes surprise visit to war-weary Kabul
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives in the Afghan capital Kabul on a surprise visit to the war-weary country
2:15AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Braves beat Diamondbacks 7-6 on wild pitch in 10th inning
Dansby Swanson scored the go-ahead run on Yoshihisa Hirano's wild pitch in the 10th inning, and the Atlanta Braves rallied after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6.
2:05AM ( 37 minutes ago )
AP source: Kaepernick watches ad's TV premiere from Nike HQ
Nike aired its highly anticipated ad featuring Colin Kaepernick during the NFL season opener Thursday night as the quarterback watched from the apparel giant's Oregon headquarters
2:01AM ( 40 minutes ago )